Dec 5, 2016

Merry Christmas from Our Elves

And so it begins... the Christmas season is off to a raring start in our house!

Santa's Little Helper

Even in a elf hat Scout looks like a thug

The Dreaded Jungle Elf says "Merry Christmas!!"
Or maybe she said, "Get this hat off my head!"
It's hard to tell. 

Nov 27, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew 2016 Blue Ribbon Awards

Every year those of us on the Crew vote on our favorite review products for the year. You can find the results of that vote by clicking on the link below

2016 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016

On a more personal note, though, the kids and I like to choose our own Awards list. It's fun to look back over the reviews we have done and pick our favorites. I prefer those that make a big impact on someone's education, while the kids usually chose fun and exciting over the more practical choices. Here are our Top Ten Lists this year, all linked to our reviews.

My Top Ten:

10 Apologia Astronomy
9 Kwik Stix
8 Hey Mama! Planner
7 Stopmotion Explosion
6 Carole Roman's books
5 Artistic Pursuits: Model
4 Heirloom Audio: The Dragon and The Raven, Beric the Briton, The Cat of Bubastes
3 IEW Poetry Memorization
1 Accountable2You

Kaytie's Top Ten:

10 Heirloom Audio: Beric the Briton
9 Chara Games: Commissioned
8 FlipStir
7 ArtAchieve
6 The Glass Castle
5 The Ultimate Gift
Artistic Pursuits: Model
3 Simply Fun: Archery Dice
Kwik Stix
1 Stopmotion Explosion

Nate's Top Five

Heirloom Audio: Beric the Briton
Chara Games: Commissioned
3 The Glass Castle
Stopmotion Explosion
1 Chemistry 101

Daniel's Top Ten

10 Kwik Stix The Ultimate Gift
Carole Roman's books
7 Times Tales
Heirloom Audio: Beric the Briton
5 Heirloom Audio: The Dragon and the Raven
Chara Games: Commissioned
Simply Fun: Archery Dice
Stopmotion Explosion

Abbie's Top Ten

10 WAY Comes Home Kit
Kwik Stix
Chara Games: Commissioned
6 Critical Thinking Co.: Sentence Diagramming
4 Homeschool Copywork
Heirloom Audio: Beric the Briton
Stopmotion Explosion
Simply Fun: Archery Dice

and her honorable mentions: The Ultimate Gift
Carole Roman's books
The Familyman

And our 2016 family favorite is:

Stopmotion Explosion

Nov 17, 2016

11 years old!

Happy 11th birthday to Daniel! I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown! In 11 short years he has gone from the serious baby who just wanted to snuggle to the silly toddler with two pacis to the noisy little guy digging in the dirt, to the grubby boy with his pockets full of bugs, to the curious kid always busy learning and doing. And now he is a brilliant young man with a quirky sense of humor and an eternally empty stomach.
I am so proud of the young man he is becoming! He is such an awesome kid and we are all so grateful he is a part of our family. Happy birthday, Daniel!!!

Nov 16, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew: Chemistry 101

If you know us at all, either in real life or as a reader of this blog, then you know that we are passionately interested in science. So we are always eager for any science related product reviews. The boys have recently been greatly enjoying Chemistry 101 from The 101 Series.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
We all love science but we each have our own special science interest. Nate's interest is in Chemistry. When he was just a little guy, he fell in love with the Periodic Table of Elements and has been fascinated by all things Chemistry ever since. Although there have been times when I wondered if it was just the blowing up of things that truly held his interest, he does enjoy reading and learning about compounds and molecules and all the rest. 

The 101 Series, which includes Physics 101 and Biology 101, is intended to be a series of high school level, credit earning courses, to meet all your high school science needs. The series is produced by Westfield Studios, a company that was created by a homeschooling dad, Wes Olson to fill a void of uncomplicated but understandable, visual, high school science.

The program consists of a set of DVDs that contain 19 lessons. Each lesson is roughly half an hour long and is given in a conversational style with a lot of visual aids and varying backgrounds. The teacher talks directly to the students. It is casual and engaging. He performs the lab experiments in the lessons for kids like my son who are using the program as a supplement. 

The lessons include the history of Chemistry, modern Chemistry, electrons, radiation, particles, the Periodic Table, neutrons, compounds, molecules, and much more. 

In addition to the "lectures" is a PDF of an overview of each lesson. This Guidebook also contains discussion questions, quizzes, and quiz answers. Another PDF, the Accreditation Booklet, offers everything required to turn the lessons into a full science credit, including labs, essays and reports, a schedule, research and notebooking assignments, field trip ideas, and even a list of materials required to do the labs.

We used Chemistry 101 as a supplement. Nate loves Chemistry but he is only twelve and I don't think he is quite ready for a high school science credit. So basically I handed him the DVDs and said, "Watch this."

I expected him to watch one lesson and wander off. I thought I would have to use some mommy-persuasion to fulfill the work required for the review. I was wrong. He watched the first three lessons in one sitting. He only stopped because we limit screen-time and I made him stop. He immediately commenced begging to watch more. And it's not just him. My eleven year old son is just as fascinated. They huddle up together on the couch and absorb all the chemistry knowledge. 

When I am not letting them watch it, Nate is telling us all the stuff he is learning... pretty much non-stop. He loves these videos! I asked him to give you his opinion in his own words. 

Nate says:

I thought it was quite interesting. I learned a lot. I like how he teaches by talking and talking because that is just the way I learn best. The first few lessons give you an overview of chemistry history and then it teaches you the parts of the Periodic Table and the background of the separate elements. I also learned that it rains diamonds on Neptune because the majority of the gases are carbon and since the pressure of the atmosphere is so strong it causes the carbon into another of its forms: a diamond. 

I liked Chemistry 101 very much! It is very good for kids of all ages. Anybody over 3rd grade could benefit from this. It gives the basics but then it teaches stuff that I didn't even know. I highly recommend Chemistry 101 to everybody but preschoolers, it's probably too much for them. 

I agree with him that even young children will enjoy watching the videos and will learn a lot about Chemistry while doing so. I also think that with everything included in the Accreditation Booklet and the Guidebook, this would be an incredibly full science course for a high school student. I am thrilled to have this in my arsenal of possibilities for when we hit high school in a couple of years.  

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

Crew Disclaimer

Nov 15, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew: Chara Games

The kids and I love playing games and are always eager to learn a new one. So when we were asked to review Commissioned  by Chara Games, we were more than willing.

Commissioned is a unique game. It is based on the history of the Early Church, yet it is not a trivia game and you do not need to have any knowledge of history, the church, or the Bible in order to play. By the end of the game, however, you will have learned something about all three.

Commissioned is a co-operative board game. When I first told this to my kids, they scoffed at me. "No winners or losers? What's the point?" But there is winning and losing. You just do it all together as a team. You play together to, as I explained, "Beat the game itself." Being video gamers, they did understand this. :)

Commissioned is a world domination game of sorts. You are conquering the world for Jesus. Or, more accurately, I suppose, you are planting churches all over the map of the Early Church. You have Prayer and Faith cards to help you and Trials to hinder you, just like the Apostles did.

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Now there are a lot of parts and pieces to this game. At first glance, it appeared to be incredibly complicated. Indeed, we played the first game with the rules booklet clutched in my hand so that I could pore over it in order to understand every single move. However, about three-fourths of the way through the first game, something suddenly clicked and we were able to play easily and finish the game with a sense of triumph. It helped that we won. :)

Of course, there were a few rules that confused us to begin with that we realized in the middle of the game we were doing it wrong. But we just went with until the end of the game and it was all good. We knew better the next time. In fact, there are many levels to this game. It's ok, and even recommended, to start off easy and add layers of challenge as you get better at the game. We usually play a couple of games between adding challenges. 

Despite our initial confusion, this was an easy review for us. I watched the Youtube tutorial, (which you can find on the website) and we played a game together. After that, I watched the tutorial again, and we were good to go for many more games. I think it is a fun game with a lot of learning potential. It's difficult to find truly fun games that also teach history. I loved that it required my crew to work together. They can be competitive when it comes to board games, which means the games usually dissolve into a fight. But, try as they might (and they did) there was nothing to fight about in this game. It's win or lose together.

Now the suggested age range for Commissioned  is ages 14 and up. But my kids, ages 13, 12, 11 and nearly 10, had no problems understanding and playing the game. So if you have a kid or two (or four) under 14, don't let the suggested age scare you off! They might just be able to play, too.

Here's what my kids had to say about the game:

Kaytie: It was fun once we figured out how to play. It has a couple random hidden strategies that we had to figure out. Depending on the standards for winning, there are different strategies to use to get to your goal. I liked that because I like strategy games. I liked that they involved Biblical history in it and the restrictions applied to the time frames in history. 

Nate: It's a good game. It's a domination game but different because everyone is working together and not against each other. The age limit says 14 and up and I think it should stay that way. I liked learning the history. I learned that Barnabas was physically large, and I didn't know that before. 

Daniel: It was fun because we had to work together and find the best way to do what you needed to beat the game. I didn't like how hard it was to learn but it got really easy after awhile. I liked how there was the Apostles and not just random characters. I liked learning about history. 

Abbie: It was fun! It was very complicated at first. I didn't like that the games took so long. I liked that it was based off the Bible. I learned that John teached people about Jesus. I liked that we had to work together to win the game instead of fighting against each other. 

Chara Games has another game out: 3 Seeds which some Crew members will be reviewing sometime in the future.

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Crew Disclaimer

Nov 11, 2016

Hallowe'en Pictures

Kaytie was Mishmash, the superhero she created herself.

Nate went as Myself.

Daniel was a Ninja.

And Abbie also went as a superhero she made up... Captain America's daughter. 


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